Well, production is finally underway on the new Doctor Who spin off, “Class” and I have to say, I can’t wait to see what the series has to offer.
I don’t think I was the only person surprised by the announcement last year. Of all the possibilities and rumours that were circulating online, it felt a bit bizarre that this was the idea they chose. A YA series set in contemporary London? But let's consider the setting of the show and ask why? Why is this setting better than say Victorian London? It would suggest that maybe this setting can offer something that the others could not? That there is something specific that Coal Hill School can give us.
What it is exactly, at this point in time, is unclear, although it's interesting to note that when Coal Hill School returned throughout series eight of Doctor Who, Sam Anderson (Danny Pink) had this to say on the significance of the school.
"I think it's a bit of a high-five to the past. And it helps place something or someone that really has no place. The guy can be anywhere in time and space whenever and I suppose it helps, it's a useful tool to say this is where we are, we're back in London and this school is here; we're back in this specific area of London."So, Coal Hill School potentially gives the Doctor an Earth base, of such. Grounding "the guy who can be anywhere in time and space". It's also a perfect contemporary setting for the target audience BBC Three is aiming for - 16 to 30 year olds.
Despite the school setting, I think Class is going to be quite Torchwood in style. I'm hoping we'll see things that Doctor Who would not be able to accomplish as a family show, like more violence, or more ghastly aliens (like the 456). The recently released synopsis certainly suggests a major malevolent force...
What if your planet was massacred and you were the sole survivor?So, has the Doctor hidden the sole survivor amongst the students of Coal Hill School? And if so, which one of the cast could it be?
What if a legendary figure out of space and time found you a place to hide?
But what if the things that want to kill you have tracked you down?
And worst of all, what if you haven't studied for your A-Levels…?
I wonder what Patrick Ness plans to do to encourage viewers to come back week after week? When Class was announced Ness said “The first series is 8 episodes long”, which would seem to suggest that it is one serialised story over eight installments. Eight cliffhangers to make sure viewers return for the next episode, perhaps? If so, I think this is a good way to go, I'm not against the enemy-of-the-week format but as long as there is not a new invasion of Earth thwarted by a small group of teens from Coal Hill School every single episode then I will be satisfied.
We've been promised "all-new villains and aliens" but it would be good to see some familiar monsters too. One possibility is the return of the Slitheen, they were re-used in the Sarah Jane Adventures time and time again, however if written correctly I do believe the Slitheen could be seen as a decent enemy and this could be their chance. Also, it would be great to see the Scovox Blitzer, from the series eight episode The Caretaker, again. I think that was a wasted opportunity for a potentially great alien. You never know, maybe it escaped the Time Vortex and came back to Earth by default, arriving in the same setting - Coal Hill School.
Talking about The Caretaker, we've 'met' the new cast of Class, but who may join them?
Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor - the "legendary figure out of space and time" who has found the sole survivor a place to hide - should definitely make an appearance in the series, even if it's just in the opening episode. This will bring Class closer to Doctor Who, will help to tie the two series together, and should, at the least, encourage people who were wary about the show to give it a chance.
Coal Hill School has been a part of Doctor Who since 1963 when it featured in the first ever episode, and because of this there are many other characters associated with the school who could make an appearance, further linking the spin-off with the main series.
The obvious actor who should make an appearance is William Russell, his character's name is up there on the school sign at the top of the page - Chairman of the Governors: I, Chesterton. When it was announced that Coal Hill School was to feature in series eight of Doctor Who there were many fans who were hoping to see William Russell return as Ian. Sadly, at that time it was not to be, so to not include even a brief cameo for him here would be a terrible opportunity wasted.
Clearly, all of this is speculation on my part as solid information about Class is still quite hard to come by and we don't know for sure what potential story lines Patrick Ness has got planned. Some may think that his possibilities are limited being set in a school, however this has not proven to be a boundary for other shows, like “Wizards Vs Aliens”, which also have similar settings. Add to this that Ness is familiar with writing for the target demographic, YA or teenagers, and it's clear why he's the perfect choice to spearhead the series.
So although Doctor Who itself is off our screens for nearly all of 2016, I think there is much to look forward to this year. We can see that this spin-off has great potential, and whatever happens I am sure it will be… Class.
Ianto can be found watching Doctor Who or any superhero related show. His natural habitat is in a comic book shop or a convention, and he can turn any conversation about normal items into something Doctor Who related. YOWZA.